PARENTS EVERYWHERE COULD soon be buying Emily Duffy’s technologically-enhanced nappies.
That’s the Limerick 5th year student’s hope anyway.
The 16-year-old’s invention, which makes use of existing technologies, is aimed at giving parents an indication of when their baby may need a quick visit to the GP.
Once the child’s wearing it, it looks for all the world like a normal nappy. However, an in-built thermometer gives an indication of whether the infant may have a fever – and a urine test strip can provide some clues about other health concerns.
Emily talked us through the science at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition earlier today:
Her inspiration came from an evening spent babysitting, Emily said.
“I was told that babysitting was going to be easy money – but it wasn’t.
“I spent three hours trying to get the baby to stop crying… I tried everything from soothing it to feeding.
“Eventually when the child’s parents came home they realised they had to take it to the doctor as it had a fever.
“I hadn’t noticed because the child was wearing so many layers of clothing.
That started the ball rolling…
It’s “simple and effective” according to the Desmond College student. She contends that if it was marketed on a wide scale, the cost would be minimal.
There would be some cost if it was initially taken on by a company, but after that it would pay for itself.
The plan would be to market it towards existing companies, who would offer it in a pack with regular disposable nappies.
They would have maybe three in a pack of 12, so that parents might be able to use it on a day that they think their child needs it.
And does it work?
“My science teacher has a child. Unfortunately for her, but fortunately for me her child actually did get sick and she was able to detect the fever via the nappy.”
This is Emily’s fifth entry to the Young Scientist expo. She earned a commendation last year for her ‘Homeless Wrap’ sleeping bag for rough sleepers – which are waterproof, non-flammable, retain heat and feature reflective strips to make them more noticeable to traffic (see below).
The Young Scientist Exhibition
Over 2,000 projects were entered in this year’s competition, which takes place at the RDS in Dublin between today and Saturday. Judging starts today for the 550 projects that made the cut.
The exhibition is the largest of its kind in Europe – and showcases students’ talents in the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths.
Up to 60,000 visitors are expected to attend when the event opens its doors to the public from tomorrow. The overall winner will be announced on Friday night.